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June 30, 2008

Iím Calling You On Vacation, And I Donít Care


Iíve decided that, starting right now, Iím interrupting your vacation. And itís your own fault.


This is the result of my calling you and getting a most unwanted bit of information: ďYouíve reached Bob Matheson. I am out of the office until Monday, July 14. Please leave a message at the tone and I will get back to you upon my return. If this is an urgent matter, you can reach me on my cell phone at 616.BLAHBLA.Ē


Now, the old D.F. would have said, ďOh dear, I donít want to bother Bob on his vacation!Ē I might have tried to conjure up, in my mind, some justification I might have used to explain why it really was a very, very, very urgent situation, and I needed to make his cell phone ring at the very moment he was strapping water skis on little Bob Jr. for the first time.


Had I actually made the call, I would have apologized six or seven times before bringing up whatever business had necessitated the call, and six or seven times after. That was the old D.F.


What does the new D.F. say?


Screw it. Make the call.


Much of this is the product of my own evolution, but there are good practical reasons as well. In the past two years, Iíve made a transition from mainly using an office phone for business to using my cell phone almost exclusively. The only reason I even still have the desk phone is that I have a lease on the system and no one is quite sure where we would go to get rid of it. The cell phone has graduated from my when-Iím-on-the-road-or-after-hours phone to My Phone.


And once your cell phone becomes Your Phone, you get used to the idea that youíre never really out of the office. If this offends your sense of work/home separation, donít give out your cell phone number. But chances are, youíll realize after about three weeks that your personal sovereignty is not under attack because you got a work call while you were doing the dishes.


So I donít fret for Bobís personal time because Iím not too terribly concerned about my own.


As a practical matter, Iím calling Bob on vacation because I know darn well that there is no one else in his office who has the answer to my question, and I have no intention of waiting until July 14 to get it. I suppose I could. It wouldnít be the end of the world if this item stayed on my to-do list until then.


But I want to get it done, and Iíve simply decided Bob being on vacation isnít a good enough reason to have to wait two weeks. So Iím calling.


Bob did make a choice, you realize. Two choices, actually. First, he made a choice to give out his cell phone number on his voice mail greeting Ė not to mention leaving it up to me to define what an ďurgent situationĒ is. I define urgent by how patient Iím feeling that day.


Second, he made a choice not to include the following in his voice mail greeting: ďIf this is D.F. Krause, my colleague Erin has the answer to your question.Ē


Would I still call Bob on vacation then? Of course not. Iím not a sadist. I just want my question answered. But Bob wouldnít think to leave the information with Erin because Bob doesnít think like that. Heís very good at his job, but he figures that when itís time to go on vacation, all he needs to do is go.


So I made the call. It took about three minutes. Bob had exactly the information I needed. I did hear Mrs. Matheson grousing in the background, ďWeíre on vacation!Ē


Iíll leave it to Bob to explain how that ridiculous D.F. Krause just canít let a man take his family on vacation in peace. I just hope they donít stand there arguing about it too long. Bob Jr. is waiting to ski!

© 2008 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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